In a wild game, the New Jersey Generals saw Luis Perez run for a one-yard touchdown on the last play of the game to defeat the Houston Gamblers 26-25.
The game got off to a fast start with both teams scoring touchdowns on their first drives of the game. Houston started the fireworks where Clayton Thorson found a wide-open streaking Teo Redding for a 48-yard touchdown to give them a 7-0 lead.
New Jersey responded back with just five plays and DeAndre Johnson hitting KaVontae Turpin for a 19-yard touchdown pass to tie the game up at 7-7.
Both teams would respond with back-to-back punts. One of the key moments of the game was Johnson injuring his leg late in the first quarter which would result in him not returning to the game. Luis Perez would take over as quarterback for the remainder of the game.
At the beginning of the second quarter, Thorson would throw up a deep ball on third down that resulted in De’Vante Bausby getting an interception for the Generals.
Both teams once again punted the ball back to back when New Jersey would end the cold streak of no scoring. It would only take four plays for Perez to throw a perfect deep pass to Turpin to connect on a 32-yard touchdown to put the Generals on top 14-7.
After a punt from each team, Houston would take over the rest of the half as it started with an eight-play drive ending in a 14-yard touchdown catch from Thorson to Mark Thompson. Houston missed the extra point as New Jersey still led the game 14-13.
Perez would be stripped sacked on the first play of New Jersey’s drive by Chris Odom and recovered by Tomasi Laulile.
Two plays later, Thorson found Thompson again on a 19-yard touchdown catch to give Houston the lead, but the Gamblers missed the two-point conversion so Houston went into the half leading 19-14.
The third quarter featured somewhat of an oddity as New Jersey conducted a strong 14-play drive before setting themselves up with a field goal. Here comes the fun part. In a play better seen than written, Austin Jones’ field goal was blocked by Odom, recovered by Donald Payne, and then Payne fumbled that was recovered by Woody Brandom giving the Generals the ball back at Houston’s 47-yard line. Got it?
This gave New Jersey another drive that saw this one last another ten plays and gave the Generals possession of the ball for the whole third quarter. The good news for the Generals is they would cash in on the blocked field goal fumble recovery with a short three-yard touchdown run by Trey Williams. New Jersey would regain the lead up 20-19 after missing the two-point conversion.
Houston finally got the ball back for the first time in the second half and was able to produce a seven-play drive. Unfortunately for the Gamblers, Nick Vogel would miss a 47-yard field goal to give the Generals got the ball back. New Jersey put together an eight-play drive before Perez was part of another strip fumble by Odom and recovered again by Laulile. This time, Laulile rumbled down the field returning the fumble all the way for a touchdown. After missing yet another two-point conversion, Houston held a 25-20 lead over New Jersey.
New Jersey would get the ball back with five minutes and 50 seconds left to win the game. Due to the successfully balanced attack between the run and pass, Perez led the Generals down the field 80 yards on 15 plays. During this drive, they would convert two fourth downs and successfully recreate the Philly Special.
On the final play of the game, Perez converted a fourth and goal at the one-yard line with a QB sneak to win the game 26-25.
Final Team Analysis
New Jersey Generals
Fans could pick multiple players that made the most impact on this game for New Jersey. We must first look at the offensive line unit for the Generals. While the line allowed five sacks in the game, they blocked for 164 rushing yards behind them and made enough of the push, as well as Darius Victor, to get Perez over the goal line to win the game. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but they proved once again to be one of the best offensive lines in the USFL.
Turpin was spectacular with 13 total touches for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He seemed to make big plays every time he touched the ball alluding defenders with his quick feet. While it was a slow start to the season for Turpin, he emerged as the most important weapon on the offense passing or running the ball.
Luis Perez deserves a ton of credit for his performance in the game. Perez never took a snap last week and came into the game cold. How did he respond? By completing 75% of his passes and scoring two total touchdowns including the game-winner. His two fumble losses could have cost them the game, but Perez came up clutch when the team needed him and recovered nicely with a massive win.
Mike Riley’s unit improved to 5-1 on the season and has put themselves in a position where the playoffs are well in reach. While they technically didn’t clutch a playoff spot against Houston, New Jersey will have a chance to do so next week as they take on the Tampa Bay Bandits. Losses by Michigan and Pittsburgh next week would get the Generals a plane ticket to Canton, Ohio for the playoffs.
USFL NewsHub writer Mike Mitchell explained the Houston Gamblers in one easy tweet on Twitter.
This was a game that also saw so many players step up and make multiple plays for Houston. The defense saw Chris Odom prove why he has been considered the best pass rusher in the USFL with seven tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a field goal blocked. Donald Payne stepped up as well with 18 tackles, two sacks, and a fumble recovery in the game as well.
Clayton Thorson deserves a lot of praise as this was by far his strongest performance of the season. Thorson completed 15 of 19 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns to just one interception. He was much needed as Mark Thompson and Dalyn Dawkins struggled to gain any traction on the ground. Thompson was able to make an impact on the passing game with two touchdown catches. With Isaiah Zuber getting so much attention, Teo Redding has emerged as a big-play receiver the last two weeks and should be more of a factor in the passing game the rest of the season.
The biggest concerns come from multiple aspects of this game. One, Houston lost the time of possession allowing New Jersey to hold the football for over 40 minutes in the game. Two, the team blew a second half lead for the fifth straight game and lost on the final play of the game for the second straight time. This lack of overcoming adversity has to be a direct reflection on Kevin Sumlin and how the coaching staff is preparing their team at halftime. The lack of resiliency from the Gamblers shows a lack of discipline from the players and coaches.
After a five-game losing streak and holding a 1-5 record, the playoffs are not looking very likely for this unit. Sumlin and company will be focused on upsetting the Philadelphia Stars next Sunday in Birmingham. Most of the rest of the season will be the Gamblers ruining the chances of other teams to make the playoffs.
New Jersey Generals